SIBF 2022: Top 5 tips for budding authors from international best selling author Marie Lu

Her books have sold more than 3 million copies, and have been published in thirty-two different languages



By Lamya Tawfik

Published: Sun 13 Nov 2022, 4:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Nov 2022, 8:52 PM

Marie Lu, international bestselling science fiction writer and author of the Legend series, shared her top 5 tips for budding writers during her visit to the Sharjah International Book Fair.

The first tip, Lu says, is to not be afraid to write something bad. “You have a perfect idea in your head and you want it to come out perfectly on the page. When it doesn’t, it can feel really frustrating that the story that you want to tell isn’t coming out the way you envisioned it,” she noted, emphasising that it is important to just write the story.

She explained that when she first started, she would write 50 pages of a new story and then go back to revise it repeatedly until she lost interest and started a new project. “I kept doing that, then realised I haven’t finished anything. When it comes to writing the first draft, it’s important to remember that quantity is more important than quality. I had to just write without revising. You can’t work with something that doesn’t exist.”

Her second tip to budding writers is to understand that they are not the same as their book. “If publishers reject a book, it doesn’t mean that they are rejecting you as a person – they’re two separate things. “It can be hard on the heart to put a piece of yourself into writing and then make it into a product…A lot of artists have trouble with this idea,” said Marie.

Budding artists also need to know that revision is king, so her third tip for writers is to embrace editorial changes and revisions. “It’s my favourite part of the writing process – it’s where all the magic happens and the book starts to come together,” she said.

She encouraged all aspiring writers to read. “This is an important tip. You must read. A lot of people seem to think they can be writers without reading and that’s not possible. You need to know what it means to be a good writer. You can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader,” she said.

Marie encouraged them to analyse books that they enjoyed reading to understand what the elements are that were enjoyable. “What is it about the book that spoke to you? It takes understanding other people's stories to create one of your own.”

Her final tip to budding authors is to be forgiving of themselves as they figure out the writing process. “It’s a very organic thing. We all work [in] different ways, so find the writing routine that works for you,” she explained, adding that it’s okay if their process doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

During the book fair, Marie Lu met with school students and shared her experiences with them. She said that when she moved with her family from China to the United States, she could speak very little English.

“My mother made me learn 5 new words every day which I had to look up in the dictionary, then write paragraphs about them. I then enjoyed what I can do with words and started to write,” she told the students.

Marie Lu’s books have sold more than 3 million copies and are published in thirty-two languages.

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